Newcastle Eagles assistant coach Dave Forrester has pinpointed the next seven days as critical to their silverware mission.
Eagles take on Worcester Wolves in the BBL Trophy quarter-final tonight before meeting Sheffield Sharks on Tuesday – and then clashing with the Wolves again in a week in the league.
Those three games could define whether a campaign that has been re-invigorated by an unbeaten run since the turn of the year will be a success or a campaign of transition with a team made up of mostly BBL rookies.
“There’s a quiet confidence in the group about these games but we know that the greater challenges lie ahead,” Forrester said. “We play Worcester, then go to Sheffield on Tuesday and have Worcester again the following week in the league.
“That is three games in seven days which are pivotal really to the success of the season.
“If we were to drop a game to Worcester we will be out of the Trophy and if we drop a game to them in the league then we have lost the head to head.
“So what we have done in the last six or seven weeks has really only allowed us to get to a position where we can challenge.
“It hasn’t actually achieved anything just yet.” Eagles seem to be gaining momentum and belief during a New Year run which has seen them go unbeaten in 2014 – with the exception of the BBL Cup final.
That was a defeat that Forrester puts down to a lack of experience in a group that is “maturing together”.
For this reason, he has pin-pointed Charles Smith and player-coach Fab Flournoy (pictured left) as two of the most important men on the court.
Forrester has revealed that Flournoy dislocated his finger on the court again last weekend, popping it back in under the basket to help defeat the London Lions in a crucial BBL clash at Sport Central.
He will play on again this week, with the Eagles benefiting from his experience in big games like this. “It was typical of Fab really,” said Forrester. “I saw his finger at a funny angle and he just popped it back in.
“People underestimate the importance of Fab. We have a very complex system that requires everyone to do their bit. If one person is off, the whole system tends to collapse so we need people like Fab and Charles to be there to make the right decisions at key points.
“Charles is still the best shooter in the league and no-one can defend like Fab in the league.
“They’re still absolutely crucial to what we do and Fab has proved himself a great.”